Friday, November 16, 2012

The Kannywood-Bollywood Connection

For those you who've read Balaraba Ramat Yakubu's Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home and are curious about the Hausa - Indian movie connection, Abdalla Uba Adamu of Bayero University has sent us some very cool scans of Nigerian/Bollywood movie posters. Check it out:

And here's the poster for the first Indian movie ever dubbed in Hausa, starring none other than namma ooru Superstar! Natch.

Also, a quick note: I made a rather large goof in the Publisher's Note to Sin Is a Puppy. I claimed that "to the best of our knowledge", it was the first Hausa novel ever translated into English. The best of our knowledge, it turns out, was not very good. Carmen McCain points out in a review of the novel in a Nigerian paper that there have been older novels that have appeared in well-known translations, and even one soyayya novel published in Nigeria. She has helpfully revised our boast to "the first international publication in translation of a contemporary Hausa novel". We'll have to wait for the next print run to fix that. Woops.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Sin Is a Puppy" now available in print and eBook formats

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu's 1990 novel Alhaki Kuykuyo Ne..., one of the early bestsellers from northern Nigeria's Hausa-language soyayya pop fiction genre, is now available in English translation from Blaft Publications. You can read the first chapter here.

Order from our website for free shipping within India & low shipping prices for the rest of the world. Or, you can buy the eBook in EPUB or Kindle formats.

We think you'll enjoy it!

For those interested in knowing more about Hausa culture and Hausa literature, we point you to Abdalla Uba Adamu of the University of Kano, who helped us with this project in a huge way. He maintains this YouTube channel, The Foundation for Hausa Performing Arts, where you can find some excellent video of Hausa traditional music performances. You can also read his blog posts (from a few years ago) for some background on Hausa literature and the struggles between authors and censors.

There's also Carmen McCain, an American living in Kano who blogs about Hausa films and popular culture.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Upcoming release

We're excited to announce the imminent release of the next Blaft title, Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu.

The book is a translation from Hausa, a language spoken by over 40 million people in West Africa. Hausa is written in two scripts: one, the ajami script, is derived from Arabic, and is used mostly for poetry and religious writings; the other, boko, is derived from the Roman alphabet, with a few extra characters (e.g. ɓ, ɗ, ƙ).

In the late 1980s in the city of Kano, Nigeria, there was a publishing boom of Hausa-language books written in boko. These popular novels were often inspired by Hindi films, which have been hugely popular among Hausa speakers for decades. (Check out this Nigerian guy who's never been to India, but learned Hindi from the movies!)

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, who published her first novel in 1987, has been at the forefront of this Hausa popular fiction scene virtually from the beginning. With nine novels to her credit, she's recently moved into film, working in Kannywood (the Kano-based Hausa film industry).

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu
photo by Sunmi Smart-Cole

Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home is a translation (by Kano University professor Dr. Aliyu Kamal) of Balaraba's second novel, which came out in 1990.

It's an Islamic soap opera complete with polygamous households, virtuous women, scheming harlots, and black magic.

We think you'll like it.

Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home represents a number of firsts. It's the first time, as far as we know, that an English translation of a full Hausa novel has ever been published (although a short excerpt did appear before, in an excellent reader put together by Stephanie Newell from the University of Sussex.) For a language with 40 million speakers--that's comparable with Kannada, and about four times as many as Dutch--this seems long overdue.

It's also, we believe, the first time a translation of an African-language work has ever been published first in India. We like the idea of South-South literary exchange, and we wish this sort of thing would happen more often.

The book is now available for pre-order on our site, and copies should be available in Indian stores in mid-October. An ebook version will also be available worldwide next month.

In other news

A number of new books have been released recently by other publishers which feature the work of Blaft authors/artists/collaborators. Here are some of them:

The Pao Anthology of Comics 1
featuring work by Orijit Sen, Amitabh Kumar, and Vidyun Sabhaney  [all of whom were also contributors to The Obliterary Journal], Vishwajyoti Ghosh [author of Times New Roman & Countrymen], and many more

Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana
featuring a story by Kuzhali Manickavel among many others.

(Aside: for more modern riffs on the Ramayana, check out Thai painter Jirapat Tatsanasomboon's work.)

The Taming of Women by P. Sivakami
translated from Tamil by Pritham K. Chakarvarthy, who's translated a number of books for Blaft.

Buy & support! Get them from an independent bookstore if you can.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bangalore Comic Con

Blaft will be at Bangalore Comic Con in stall A18 at Koramangala Stadium, Bangalore, Saturday & Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm.

Meet Shyam, prolific illustrator for Tamil weekly magazines and book covers, as well as the artist behind Kumari Loves a Monster (which now has a Tumblr.)

Shyam (L) with Rashmi Ruth Devadasan and unidentified therapod

 One of Shyam's illustrations from Kumari Loves a Monster

George Mathen a.k.a. Appupen, author of Moonward, will also be there.


We'll be selling Blaft books at discount rates... as well as copies of Vidyun Sabhaney and Shohei Emura's new Captain Bijli comic "Mice Will Be Mice" and some limited edition Tamil Pulp Fiction light boxes.

See you there!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Lit Mag Evening -- July 7 in Bangalore

Attention Bangaloreans:


Note: Some organizers voiced concerns that it might appear tacky to mention on the invite itself the fact that there will be 
at the event. Good thing we have no such qualms here at the Blaft blog.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Call for Submissions: The Obliterary Journal Vol. 2

In February we released The Obliterary Journal Vol. 1, a book of comics and street art and alien robots and illustrated nonsense by around 30 contributors.

Some very nice words about the book have appeared in print, written by people we think are really smart like Achal Prabhala and Deepa D. and Aishwarya Subramanian and Jai Arjun Singh, which makes us feel happy and proud. And so: we want to make another book.

Call for submissions. The Obliterary Journal Vol. 2 is going to be a themed issue, and the theme is:


We are looking for short works of graphic fiction / graphic non-fiction / photo-essays / infographics, ranging in length from 1 to 20 pages, dealing primarily with various aspects of meat-eating and meat-production. We're looking for authors/artists who will explore the morality and ethics of non-vegetarianism, examine the business of raising animals and killing them and selling their body parts, delve into the history and politics of religious food taboos, take up the PETA $1 million cultured meat challenge, begin eating bugs as a way to combat global warming... you get the picture.  Please mail us at blaft [at) blaft (dot] com with your concepts or partial work.  Page size is 7 in. by 9 in.  We're looking at finalizing a table of contents by October.

Despite all those cool reviews we linked to above, we are still a struggling independent publishing house, and we can't pay much. Upon acceptance we will negotiate a payment based on length, how much work our editorial and design team put in, and other considerations.

We are especially interested in
  • working with artists trained in traditional/folk arts who may have limited access to English-language publishing markets 
  • any meat-related comics or graphics which have already been published in regional languages, for translation.
We can pay a bit more for projects like these, and would appreciate any leads or introductions.

We look forward to seeing your submissions and ideas!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Independent Bookstores!

Over the last few years, anyone interested in reading, writing, and/or publishing will have heard people making statements like "the book industry is in the middle of major changes."  It's true.  One of the major changes has been the advent of the eBook. And while some people really hate eBooks or are sad about them or frightened of them, Kuzhali Manickavel thinks you should stop whining yougaiz.

If you have accepted the eBook into your life, you may be interested to know that Blaft has some for sale, with more slated for release soon. On the other hand, if you are still one of those people who gets high on newbooksmell, we would like to encourage you to buy books from an independent bookstore.  Indie bookstores need and deserve your support because they are usually stocked by good, kind people who actually care about good writing and good books and good art, instead of by retail software customized for the optimization of B2B verticals via dynamical supply chain modeling based on the resynergization of the robustness of maximally profitable logistical fuckery.

We have made a little map of independent bookstores (and some indie variety stores which have a few bookshelves) around the country. All of these stores, as per the latest information at the time of posting, have Blaft's full catalog in stock, in addition to books by other great indie publishers and many other things you probably want to own.  So go forth and spend your money.

View Support Independent Bookstores! in a larger map

Note: if you have an indie bookshop and you would like to be on this map -- what are you waiting for? Place an order from us already! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tamil Pulp Update, Alien Landings Press, Etc.

We haven't updated the blog in a long while. Our latest releases Stupid Guy Goes to India and The Obliterary Journal have been in stores in India for a couple of months now. We hope you'll pick them up and that you'll enjoy them as much as these reviewers. (They're not available outside the country yet, but they will be soon.)

Even more exciting, Pachanana Moharana's illustrations from The Obliterary Journal have been sparking long-overdue speculation on the 1947 Odisha alien robot landing in mainstream publications like The Hindu and Zee News and Deccan Herald, which of course has us just tickled.

Meanwhile -- We often get calls from journalists asking about the popular fiction market in India. A lot of these journalists seem to take it for granted that the regional language pulp fiction industries are dead or moribund, and that all new exciting work is happening in English only.  However, while readership may be down from the 1990s peak, in Tamil at least, the scene is alive and thriving--as proved by a recent visit to the Besant Nagar newsstand outside Words & Worth.

Rajesh Kumar, the most prolific writer in the world, is still hard at work as ever -- these three novels all came out this month. The back covers are good too:

"Mythological crime thriller" author Indra Soundar Rajan is still publishing short novels, and longer works in installments:

And, perhaps most exciting, we saw a bunch of unfamiliar names: Akhil Kumar, "Crime King" Thennilavan, and Maheshwaran...

That's nine novels for Rs. 135, kids. Hard to beat. Of course, if you only read English, you'll have to spend the big bucks on one of our translated anthologies. (Available soon as eBooks! Watch this space.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Obliteration Continues

At the launch of The Obliterary Journal yesterday at Comic Con India, contributors Vidyun Sabhaney (author of "Gurk") and Amitabh Kumar (author of "") led a workshop in which they encouraged participants to make comics out of a variety of strange materials, including x-ray paper, frisbees, cotton balls, and surgical gloves. Each participant was given an action ("running", "flying", "shitting", etc.) and asked to create a "comic" to represent that action.

Pictured below are some of the wonderful results (Thanks to Vidyun for the pictures!).

Go ahead... guess which "comic" represents which action.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sneak Preview: The Coming Obliteration

Here's a sneak preview of "Memories of the Nayagarh Incident", one of our favourite sections of The Obliterary Journal, a collection of comics, street art, and illustration from Blaft Publications in association with Tranquebar Press -- two traditional yantra-purusha tala pattachitra, or "machine-man palm-leaf engravings", by award-winning artist Sri Pachanana Moharana from Puri. The pieces are inspired by the nearly-forgotten 1947 UFO landing and close encounter in Nayagarh, Orissa -- just weeks before the famous crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

The Obliterary Journal, which also includes work by Malavika.PC, Zen Marie, Subrata Gangopadhyay, Aarti Sunder, Amruta Patil, Orijit Sen, Bharath Murthy, and many others (see the full table of contents here) launches at 3:30 pm on Friday, Feb. 17th at Comic Con India, Dilli Haat, New Delhi. We're also having a release party at Yodakin Bookstore on Monday, Feb 20th. Please come if you're in Delhi!

Available for pre-order soon!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Delhi Book Launches!

Obliterary Journal
Stupid  Guy
Goes to  India
Blaft in association with Tranquebar is very excited to announce the upcoming release of TWO NEW BOOKS! We will be launching both titles at events during the 2nd Annual Comic Con India, in Delhi, Feb. 17th - 19th 2012. Blaft will be in stall No. 13A. Drop by and say hai!

The Obliterary Journal
edited by Rakesh Khanna and Rashmi Ruth Devadasan
TIME: 3:30pm

A collection of comics, street art, typography, and illustrated stories from India and beyond. Includes:
*) A classic Bengali gangster comic in translation
*) Traditional Odisha palm-leaf engravings of alien robot invaders
*) 12th century Sanskrit algebra problems
*) Bus painters from Suriname
*) New work from Vidyun Sabhaney, Amitabh Kumar, Roney Devassia, and Aarti Sunder
*) and much, much more!


Stupid Guy Goes to India
by Yukichi Yamamatsu
translated from Japanese by Kumar Sivasubramanian
TIME: 1:00pm

In 2004, having never before left Japan, 56-year-old manga author Yukichi Yamamatsu travelled to India, armed with little money, less English, no sigmoid colon, and absolutely no idea of what to expect. He did, however, bring with him his formidable art skills, a missionary zeal for spreading Japanese comics culture, and a keen pair of eyes -- through which we are treated to a hilarious, brutally honest look at India as it presents itself to the foreign visitor.

This is the true story of Yukichi’s adventures -- playing marbles, searching for bathrooms, betting on horses, visiting a brothel -- and his madcap mission to sell Hindi translations of samurai manga on the mean streets of the nation’s capital.

Yukichi Yamamatsu will be travelling to India from Tokyo for the 2nd Annual Comic Con! Come meet a legendary mangaka, and get your copy signed!

2nd Annual Comic Con
Dilli Haat, New Delhi 
Feb 17th-19th 2012 

We'll also be having an event
with several contributors to
The Obliterary Journal
2 Hauz Khas Village
New Delhi 
at 6:30 PM on
Monday Feb 20th 2012

See you there!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Obliterary Journal - Table of Contents

Here's sign painter S. Venkataraman again, starting work on the Table of Contents for The Obliterary Journal.

Note the N.S. Brand asoefetida T-shirt.

Here's the Table of Contents a little farther along:

Here's the nearly-completed wall with some neighbourhood donkeys cavorting merrily in the foreground.

Finally, here is the completed Table of Contents in its full glory.

And here's a close-up:

The book is releasing along with Yukichi Yamamatsu's Stupid Guy Goes to India during the Delhi Comic Con, Feb 17-19, at Dilli Haat. Yukichi Yamamatsu will be flying in all the way from Tokyo to do a manga workshop, and Vidyun Sabhaney, Amitabh Kumar, Roney Devassia and other contributors will be there too. Do come by the Blaft stall!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coming Soon: The Obliterary Journal

We've been delaying the announcement because we weren't sure it would be ready. But now it's confirmed: The Obliterary Journal, a book-length collection of short comics, street art, typography, and assorted other wacky strange visuals by many extremely talented contributors will be released at Delhi Comic Convention, Feb 17-19 (exact date of event to be announced.) We will most likely also be having a gathering to celebrate the launch at a Delhi bookstore on Monday, Feb 20th.

That's Kolai Kathirikkai there on the cover, a psychopathic killer brinjal who is a character in one of the stories in the book. We would like also to draw your attention to the fact that the title of The Obliterary Journal has been actually painted on a wall by virtuoso sign painter S. Venkataraman.  This is what it looked like when he first did it:

(Note: Straatkunst means "street art" in Dutch.  चित्र कथा means "picture stories" in Hindi. Tipografia means "typography" in Spanish, though technically it's supposed to have an accent over the second i. And ஓவியக்கலை means "painting" in Tamil.)

This is what the wall looked like shortly afterwards, with an auto parked in front of it:

This is what it looks like now.

As you'll notice, it's been totally obliterated.

Watch this space for further announcements about the book and the launch!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Gurdas Maan!

Bhangra legend Gurdas Maan turns 54 today. To celebrate, we share with you this beautiful piece of collage art by Vishwajyoti Ghosh from his postcard book Times New Roman & Countrymen incorporating a scanned Gurdas Mann concert ticket, a tasty-looking dessert (yum!), and the text of an actual-absolutely-100%-no-kidding-real-deal Delhi newspaper matrimonial ad.

Buy the book here -- there are 24 more very attractive postcards in it!